China: Policeman beats Guizhou editor to death in public

New York, July 25, 2006—The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Chinese authorities to fully investigate the death of a newspaper editor who was beaten by a uniformed policeman in public, the second journalist to die at the hands of police in less than a year.

Authorities in the southwest province of Guizhou have arrested an officer in connection with the death of Anshun Daily editor Xiao Guopeng, 39, according to state media and international news reports. CPJ is determining whether Xiao was killed for his journalistic work.

Authorities have opened a criminal investigation against county police officer Pan Dengfeng who beat the journalist in full view of the public on July 18. Xiao died from head injuries at a local hospital. He had gone out to buy cigarettes and was talking to Pan’s ex-wife, also an employee of the newspaper, when he was attacked, colleagues told Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA), and state media reported.

“When Pan Dengfeng saw Xiao Guopeng standing there talking to his ex-wife, he beat Xiao Guopeng to death,” colleague Jiang Fuquan told DPA.

In February, Taizhou-based editor Wu Xianghu died from injuries sustained during a police beating the previous October. Traffic police attacked him for publishing a report that embarrassed them. Domestic media, which face tight restrictions from the Chinese government, reported the beating but not the death. Local media have reported no convictions in the case.

Violence against journalists has been on the rise in China as an increasingly market-driven press tackles issues of crime and corruption.